One day when the morning bell rang, the first student to arrive ran into our room, looking around frantically like he’d lost his puppy. When Kevin spotted me he exclaimed, “Oh good! Mrs. Foxwell, you ARE here! When I didn’t see you at the door I thought we had a substitute!” He then went to the door and announced to the other students as they arrived that “It’s okay-Mrs. Foxwell IS here. She’s just over at her desk with the tech guy because her computer isn’t working.”

I have this tradition in my classroom that I greet my students by name at the door every morning with a handshake, high five, or hug (because first graders are big huggers.) I also end the day at the door again sending them off by their name as they head home. I start this on the very first day of school and continue it until the last day because I want my students to know that I see them, that I care, and that I am SO excited that they are in my class!

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Unfortunately, on the morning that Kevin rushed in, I couldn’t be at my door when the morning bell rang because a tech guy needed me at my computer with him to get it fixed so that I could use it for the day. The reaction that my students had to the change in our routine reminded me of the importance of building a classroom community and keeping relationships central to all that we do in the classroom. As teachers, students are our WHY: they are the reason why we teach! From the moment that my students step into my classroom to the moment that they leave to go home, I want them to know that they are valued and loved.

Starting and ending the school day by individually greeting your students by name is a simple, yet effective way to set the tone for your classroom and day! Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Make it a priority to be at the door to greet students at the beginning and end of each day: Things, like computers not working and tech guys arriving right before the bell rings will happen and we all know that flexibility is key in teaching. However, when your students see you making a consistent effort to greet them it makes a big difference. So much so, that on the days you aren’t able to be at the door they will notice right away.
  2. Greet each student by name with a smile: Let your words and actions show them that you care! Names are so important, so don’t just say “Good morning!” but instead personalize it with your student’s name.
  3. Model and teach students how to greet someone: Simple things like looking someone in the eye, how to give a good handshake, and how to properly greet a person are important life skills that we need to be teaching and modeling for our students. Take some time to discuss these and set the expectation for how every day will start and end.
  4. Know your students: It’s important to get to know our students beyond their academics. Did your student have a soccer game last night? Ask them how it went! Did they walk in looking upset when they usually have a big smile on their face? Be sure to talk to them and see how they are doing (if not at the door, then soon after.) Relationships are key to the success of our classrooms!

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Becca Foxwell

Becca Foxwell

Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2016-2017

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

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